By Simi Afroza Mira
As a former fashion model, I’d certainly like to boast that the birth of my modeling career was a total fashion heart-stopper, but alas, I can’t claim such fame. (Sigh.) However, there certainly have been some landmark movements in the fashion industry that have been so far-reaching, so iconic, that it changed the fashion industry forever – and affected even me, as a sixteen year old model in 2001, decades and decades later. Let’s revisit some of these moments and remember why they are so quintessential.
1. Twiggy – the first “Supermodel”
This British model was iconic in the 1960’s, and is coined the world’s first “supermodel,” a term that is reserved for only the most well-known and successful models throughout the world. Let’s not talk about the hours and hours spent in front of the mirror, widening my eyes and willing my eyelashes to grow about 3 inches so I could mime Twiggy’s token wide, surprised eyes.
2. America’s Next Top Model – Modeling Made Accessible
This widely popular and well-known reality TV show created by an iconic supermodel herself – Tyra Banks – first aired in 2003, and for the first time ever, suddenly gave any girl who ever had any aspirations of modeling herself the opportunity to try – and try in front of millions of viewers. It gave girls all over the world the hope that they could become the next “big thing.” Suddenly everyone was given access to the world of modeling – the grueling photoshoots, the hours of makeup and hair time, the drama, and the good and the ugly of the modeling lifestyle. I remember watching the first season, while still in my modeling career. I’d study the TV, fascinated that my world was suddenly…out there. I’d eye-roll at some of the over-the-top drama, and nod solemnly along to some of the struggles the girls went through. “ANTM” has taught many a girl, (and okay me a little, too) the art of the “smize,” the “booch” and even the “tooch.” Keep it classy, Tyra.
3. The Plus-Size Model Movement
In the last five years, the acceptance and the push for a market for plus-size models in the fashion industry has gained ground and taken off. Beautiful, curvy, and alluring women, such as Ashely Graham, featured above, have shown the men and women of our culture that beauty can be found in many shapes and sizes. As a former model and fashion-conscious woman myself, this movement has been exhilarating for me to watch, and is so refreshing. While models who are very thin and lithe are beautiful, plus-size models who are curvy and voluptuous are also beautiful. That our culture is beginning to realize that there are many different sizes, types, and shapes to beauty is a breath of fresh air. Our differences in looks and size should be lauded and celebrated – one is not better than the other. I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
4. The “Little Black Dress” In the 1920’s, the renowned and classic Coco Chanel first gave the women of our world the “little black dress,” which suddenly made this dress accessible and available to any woman, in any social class or structure, anywhere. Before this iconic debut, wearing black dresses had been reserved only for women who were in mourning. With the introduction of this dress that has been replicated and coined for nearly every designer, in every decade, in the entire world, women were suddenly given the color black to wear just because.
5. Haute Couture – Fashion is Art
Haute Couture, or “high fashion,” can be coined back as far as the 1700’s. It is astonishing in its beauty, magnificence, and resplendent uniqueness. Haute Couture is an important part of our culture because it shows us that the fashion industry isn’t just about selling clothes, or conforming to pop culture. Fashion can also be a stunning piece of valuable art, to be moved by, or inspired by. Something to never forget.
And really, who could forget that…?